May 26, 2005
Q. Would you like to comment on how confident you feel out there?
CURTIS STRANGE: I played very, very well well, I played solid on the front. I made some good up and downs, but all in all on the first nine I played very well. And the back side I just played the opposite. Played very, very poorly, didn't do anything right. In fact, I was fortunate to be only 3 over par after 17 on the back. And 18 makes up for a lot of mistakes when you make eagle. But I guess I'm smiling now, I wasn't smiling here 20 minutes ago.
Q. Can you talk about the eagle on 18?
CURTIS STRANGE: Well, they had the tees up today to make us all go for it. I like that. I don't know how many days they will do it like that. But I hit a good drive and had 201 to the front of the green. Which is 201 over the water and downhill lie. Which is what make it's so difficult with a 2 iron. And I told myself, don't try to help it in the air. That's the tendency. And you hit it fat or thin when you do that.
And I got fortunate and hit it near the hole and made the putt. I tell you what else makes it tough for me is bogeying the two holes before. So I feel better now. That it's over with.
Q. How long on the putt on 18?
CURTIS STRANGE: Oh, probably 15 feet.
Q. Do you have a go zone on 18?
CURTIS STRANGE: Probably always from the up tee if drive it well you will go. From the back tee I don't think I could ever go. So the fairway is soft. I played here when it's firm and you could go from the back tee. That might be the only day they will have it up. And I'll be laying up the rest of the week. Where the tees are will dictate whether I will go or not.
Q. How was the course playing?
CURTIS STRANGE: Perfect. The fairways are firm enough. They're still holding well on the greens. But as I said yesterday, it's absolutely gorgeous venue to have a golf tournament. I played here in a number of events now and it's just I love it. It's just the kind of golf course you could play every day the rest of your life and enjoy every round.
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Q. How did you play today?
BEN CRENSHAW: Not real well. Too many I pulled a couple of shots coming in. With a little bit better finish it would have felt a little bit better. But I wasn't getting too many good chances today. I just wasn't playing very well.
Q. How do you think this course has compared to other Major championship courses?
BEN CRENSHAW: It's very difficult course. You got to play well. It's a typical setup of PGA of America. It's very tough, got to stay out of the rough and, no, it's a good golf course.
Q. Do you think the weather had any factor on the course today?
BEN CRENSHAW: No, it was beautiful. It was beautiful to see. A little breeze to contend with coming in. I don't know whether it will blow this afternoon, but there's enough to bother you.
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Q. How do you think you did today?
CRAIG STADLER: Poor. As long as you asked.
Q. What did you think of the course today?
CRAIG STADLER: The course is in great shape.
Q. Great shape?
CRAIG STADLER: Yeah.
Q. Do you think the weather had any affect on it over the week?
CRAIG STADLER: No, the greens were a little soft, but it's still in perfect shape. It wasn't that much rain.
Q. How do you think it goes with the other courses you've played with in the Masters?
CRAIG STADLER: It's not nearly as long. Quite a bit shorter. In good shape overall it's as good a shape as any we play.
Q. What kind of improvements are you going to make throughout the week?
CRAIG STADLER: A lot. Everything. Tee to green. The whole works.
Q. How did you think about your round today?
TOM WATSON: Well, my round was, it was kind of up and down. I played pretty well the front nine and hit some good shots and made birdies on both par 5s. I ended up bogeying one of the par 3s on the front side with a bad shot. But the back side I kind of played a little bit I played didn't play as well. I hit some wayward drives and I 3 putted 15. I got a lucky break at 16. Hit my tee ball hit off the trees and it went in the fairway. Made a good shot at 17 for birdie. Knocked it in about four feet from the hole on 17 with a 5 iron and 18 I got lucky again.
I hit a really good drive and then I hit the 4 iron and I played for a second shot hit behind it but still carried the ball on the green and 3 putted for birdie.
Q. How do you think this course compares to the other Major championship courses?
TOM WATSON: Well, it compares very equally, I think. I don't think we're, the PGA has always, it always has had a habit of getting really fine golf courses for us to play and this is another one in a long line of them.
Q. Do you think the weather had any impact on the course?
TOM WATSON: Sure. The weather was perfect. We had no wind in the practice rounds and so it started to act, do some funny things on the back side through the trees. It seemed as though it came back in your face at number 10. It was interesting. It was kind of like Augusta. On 18 I know it was down wind, but then we were sitting there waiting for the people to finish and it was blowing right in our fairways from the green like this. I said wait a minute, we waited five minutes, here it was right down wind again. So the wind can play some funny tricks through this valley.
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Q. I notice you shot 2 under. How do you feel your 1 under. It says 2 on there. That's okay. How do you feel your round went overall?
BRUCE FLEISHER: Well, I tell you what, I left a lot out there. This is probably the worst I could have shot.
Q. Was the course difficult at all?
BRUCE FLEISHER: You know what? Before the wind kind of came up it was a lot easier to judge. The back nine it was a lot more difficult. It seemed like the wind was bouncing around. Pin placements were really difficult. I would say it was difficult. Absolutely.
Q. Any minor improvements or anything that will help you with tomorrow?
BRUCE FLEISHER: I can't hit it any better than this, so I'm just going to have to gut it out and somehow take advantage of my good shots, which I did not do today. And just be patient, don't lose patience out there. Try to have some fun.
Q. 3 under today. That is very much in contention. How were you hitting the ball and how do you feel going into tomorrow?
DAVE BARR: I didn't hit it very good at all. I'm lucky to be playing. The guys in the fitness trailer have been working some kinks out in my lower back. I had a pulled muscle just below the left rib cage and left hip. And I was only able to play nine holes each day of the practice rounds. And it's kind of tender and sore. And I hit a lot of shots out to the right just not getting through the ball quick enough with the spinning the hips out. But I scrambled a bit and when I had a few makeable putts I was able to get those down.
Right now I'm just kind of going day by day and just hoping that I can stay together. Just keep away from hurting. Because Tuesday I could hardly swing. And so Doug Miller in the physio trailers got me going and hopefully things will be a little bit more loser tomorrow and we'll just go and see what happens.
Q. How do you feel that your round went today?
ROY VUCHINICH: Another day tomorrow.
Q. Anything in particular that
ROY VUCHINICH: Everything was off. I didn't hit very many greens, didn't chip it real good, didn't putt it very good. Just didn't score. I'll come back tomorrow and shoot a good score and everything will be okay.
Q. First round 69. Hale, obviously it goes without saying, you had not a bad PGA TOUR career, three U.S. Open wins and 20 PGA TOUR wins. But what you've done out here, on the Champions Tour, is there any explanation for why you have been so successful out here, even more successful than you were on the PGA TOUR?
HALE IRWIN: I don't know if there's a reason. I think more than anything else I've just not allowed myself to say I can't do it. I do everything in moderation. (Inaudible.) I probably learned how to play the game and what I can do and what I can't do. I keep my standards high. (Inaudible.)
Q. For awhile today it looked like this was going to be one of those days that wasn't going to be as good as others. But you got it going late in the round. Here's the second on 15.
HALE IRWIN: That was probably the best iron I hit of the day. I hit an 8 iron from 138. To a left pin. Tried to hold the ball back in there for a little draw and really hit a very nice shot. And here's the deal: On 16, I hit it in there and it just gets there and just gets there and I hit a little short with some of those putts. I need to get a little bolder with some of those putts.
Here we are at 18 after driving it in the fairway and facing a layup and on the back nine I changed my putting style a little bit and the ball really started going well off the club. I'm very pleased with that.
Q. I'm sure you would take that 69. 7 Major championship wins out here on the Champions Tour after 50. You're one behind a guy named Nicklaus. Is that a fact that you were aware of? Is it important to you to hold the record like that?
HALE IRWIN: Well, to answer the first part, I was not aware of that. Secondly, no, certainly I'm proud of what I've done. I would not want to say that (Inaudible.)
Q. How is the course playing today?
HALE IRWIN: The course is playing very nicely. There's this weather is doing wonders for the course. It's drying it out a bit. It's still a bit soft. There's no water anywhere. The greens putted nicely. Going out early we saw the best of the golf course. This weather is badly needed because the way the forecast reads it doesn't look very good for the weekend. All in all I'm very pleased with the way it went. The course set up very nicely they got some good hole locations and we're seeing, I just looked at the score board, we're seeing some very good scores for the conditions.
Q. In general you're pretty happy?
HALE IRWIN: In general, I'm delighted. The score indicates a much better round than what I played. I really he didn't hit the ball that well. In fact, after five holes I was 1 over par and I really kind of was struggling. I didn't hit my irons well, I drove the ball indifferently, and just made a little adjustment with my putting on the back nine and really started rolling the ball much better. And some of those putts that have been kind of wobbling up to the hole before, suddenly were going right at the hole. So I don't want to get terribly excited because sometimes in this came just when you think you got it, it's got you. So I'm happy with the score, but certainly I need some work to make it look a little better. You got to look good. Doesn't matter what you shoot, you got to look good.
Q. Did it play longer than you expected?
HALE IRWIN: I think so. This wind, it's a little cool wind, heavier wind. And the holes that are playing long are long holes anyway. But it certainly is helpful since some of the holes are down wind. 10 would be one of the more difficult holes here but you get a little help from the wind there. This kind of wind, it doesn't hurt, doesn't help. It sort of negates the hole.
Q. Go through your birdies on the back.
HALE IRWIN: 15, 16, 18. Good finish, obviously. 15 was I hit an 8 iron to within five feet of the hole.
16, I hit a nice drive and a little 6 iron to within 25 feet of the hole. I made that.
Then 18 I hit it in the right rough.
It's irritating today because here you have a par 5 that's playing so short anyway. When you hit it in the rough, it negates any chance for a three. So I laid up out here and hit a sand wedge to within, oh, probably 12 feet of the hole and made that. Today with this wind I would have thought that they would have moved the tee back. Because now the wind is helping. Of course with the wind the other way, now you got half the guys will be driving through that tree.
Q. Is 69 good today? Do you expect somebody to go a little lower?
HALE IRWIN: I think they will. I think someone will definitely go a little lower. It's a little lighter. It was heavier this morning. I think somebody will be in there at four or 5 under. I don't think 69 is while it's a good score, don't get me wrong, I'm delighted to have it, particularly the way I played, but I think there's going to be some lower scores this afternoon, yes. I would be surprised if there's not some lower scores.
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